THE arrest of raunchy dancer Beverly 'Bev' Sibanda might have won her some sympathisers but it did not come as a surprise to arts critics who have been following her performances.
Bev, real name Junior Lizzy Zinhu, was lucky to escape jail after she was fined US$100. The controversial dancer found herself on the wrong side of the law following the publication of erotic images of her explicit performance at the Samba Night at this year's Harare International Carnival.
The ordeal generated a lot of hype as the social media was awash with the reports. This is not the first time the dancer has been arrested. Bev was first arrested in September 2012, with fellow erotic dancer, Noleen "Zoey" Sifelani. The two were released without a charge. Bev, like any other female or male dancer is licensed to perform by the Censorship Board. The license issued under the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act prescribes the code of conduct, which is to be religiously adhered to.
Violation of any of the sections is tantamount to the cancellation of the license barring the respective dancer to perform at any public event. The Act does not specifically ban striptease, which Bev also does, it states that: "No physical contact should be made between the artist and the audience during the performance of striptease act nor should the performer of a striptease act leave the open floor area for the purpose of the act as a stage." It further bars dancers to mingle with patrons in their stage regalia after an act.
Although Bev was well aware of all these prerequisites, she, however, went on to violate it. In 2012, she went on a collision course with Delta Beverages over the indecent use of beer bottles in her dance routines where she would sit on them allowing them entry into her womanhood. When she was hauled before the Magistrate Courts recently, it did not come as a surprise since it (being brought to book for violation of her license) was long overdue.
Bev finally got a rude awakening as she accepted a two-month jail term which was wholly suspended for five years on condition she does not commit a similar offence within that period. The controversial dancer was still shaken by her ordeal as she referred the news crew to her manager, Harpers Mapimhidze. Mapimhidze said he has already devised security measures to safeguard Bev's license.
"As of today (last Thursday), I'm making sure that we erect bouncers whenever Bev is on stage. The bouncers will escort Bev and the girls (Sexy Angels) to and from, whether it's the venue or stage so that she won't get in touch with patrons. We are lucky to get a linear sentence from the courts and we want to respect the conditions we were given as well as our license," he said.
Mapimhidze said they are also going to ban patrons and media from taking pictures in any of their shows. Questioned why Bev went on to engage in explicit dance routines with patrons at Samba Night fully knowing that it was against the conditions of her license, Mapimhidze said she was overwhelmed by the carnival euphoria.
"Yes, we know what the license denotes. We went to school and understand the contents of the license but we thought we were doing exactly what (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority) ZTA expected us to do for the carnival," he said.
Mapimhidze further said they also received refresher briefings from the Censorship Board before their court appearance. However, some arts critics questioned Bev's mental and emotional stability as she might have been affected by her brush with the law, which is likely to dampen her performances. Others also wonder whether she can still manage to attract sizeable crowds during her show since most male patrons attend hoping to join her on stage.